Tag: unicellular organisms
Several years ago, Dr. Russell laid out his vision for McMurry’s future in a speech entitled Vision 2023 . Central to that vision was an emphasis on growth of the sciences and their importance in preparing our graduates for jobs of the future. Biology responded to the challenge of building new and relevant programs for life sciences by developing three new, more focused programs. One of these is the BIMS program.
At the same time, the McMurry Capital Campaign, Shaping the Future, has a focus on supporting spaces for the sciences. These two developments led to a competition on campus this fall where programs were challenged with proposing new spaces to fit their new programs and help make their delivery more effective and efficient. Thought was that an invitation to develop a variety of science building proposals would provide a excellent collection of projects that could be shopped to potential donors to help improve all science programs. Biology submitted two lab renovation proposals, one of which was heavily geared toward improving spaces for BIMS courses.
The BIMS proposal calls for several improvements, including renovating and expanding spaces now used for teaching molecular biology and microbiology courses. The current spaces, S115 and S102, are home to labs (and sometimes lectures) for Genetics, Molecular Biology, Advanced Bioscience Techniques, Unicellular Organisms, Intro to Scientific Research, Microbiology, Immunology, and Senior Capstone Research. Obviously, such heavily used spaces are unusual on any campus and thus pose challenges to effective and efficient delivery, especially in a research-oriented approach to teaching. Renovating these spaces to better meet the needs of all students in these various courses is a challenge worthy of lab renovation.
In the competition, a Physics proposal and the BIMS proposal were chosen for funding. The Trustees meet this weekend and hopes are they will approve expenditure of $2.5M from the Capital Campaign to fund the renovation projects. If so, planningand design will begin immediately and the renovation will start in May to be completed before the Fall 2010 semester.
Here is what the BIMS proposal consists of: more flexible spaces that will support both lecture and lab, anterooms for equipment and incubation and project setup so students can work on their projects outside of their normal hours without interefering with other classes using the teaching spaces, a common equipment area for major pieces of equipment that might be used by students in either lab, special spaces for working with RNA and tissue culture, and possibly additional offices and student space for study, group work, and “hanging out”. Our hope is our students will become citizens of the building and not simply tourists, that thinking and acting like scientists will give all our BIMS graduates a leg up on those who have gone through conventional and impersonal science programs.
Here are some things that are happening in the BIMS program this summer.
1. BIMS 1300. Introduction to Scientific Research is the first BIMS course taken by freshmen. It is an introduction to thinking about science in a different way – science as a process to engage in, not a bunch of facts to memorize. Dr. Tom Benoit is busy this summer adjusting its approach based on last year’s initial version to make it even more successful. The seminar portion will be completely re-done to expose students to what’s new in biomedical sciences around the world.
2. BIOL 1301. Unicellular Organisms is Dr. Benoit’s other course this fall. The course is so unique that finding an appropriate textbook is difficult. Expect the course to adjust its approach slightly to focus more on how cells work in order to emphasize what’s common to unicellular organisms, rather than on differences between various species.
3. BIOL 3410. Dr. Wilson is completely re-doing Microbiology this summer. The lecture will be aligned more closely with the textbook to help students study for exams, and the lab will feature 4-5 research projects within which all skills and knowledge for the lab portion of the course will be taught. Two projects will be a survey of fresh foods for the presence of coliforms and a survey of McMurry students for the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
4. BIOL 3460. Genetics will jump into high gear this year as Dr. Heidi DiFrancesca begins to orient students to the use of molecular biology technology at our disposal. Expect use of the DNA sequencer and rt-PCR in the lab.
5. BIMS 4320 and BIMS 4250. Junior and senior level BIMS courses will benefit from new equipment to support student research projects, and from a year of maturity in the program. Dr. D had students get the lab going last year and took baby steps in bringing it up to full capacity. This year we’ll hit the ground running.
6. BIMS 4201. The capstone course has been restructured to allow students to sign up with a BIMS faculty member to work on a project in their area of expertise. We can expect a wider variety of research projects this year as students join the research in their areas of interest. Cancer research, genetic engineering, bacterial spore physiology, and public health should all be represented by the end of the year.
The BIMS faculty will hold a retreat this summer to focus and connect our efforts. More updates will be coming on other aspects of BIMS improvements made this summer.
Today we saw completion of our second Summer Orientation And Registration (SOAR) session. During these two-day events, incoming McMurry students learn all about college life at McMurry and get their schedules set for the fall semester.
So where do we stand, now that we are half way through the registration process (there is another SOAR and a good number of students always register at the beginning of school)? We have 27 students in the first BIMS course – BIMS 1300 Introduction to Scientific Research. This course introduces students to looking at science and studying life science in a new and engaging way. If we keep on the current track, we should see at least a 50% increase in BIMS majors this year, proof that our approach is gaining momentum and students are “buying in” to our new way of teaching.
How are the other freshman-year Biology courses doing? There are 18 signed up for the BIOL 1301 Unicellular Organisms class, which is offered both fall and spring. BIMS majors must take this with the BIMS 1101 Unicellular Lab, which is only offered in the spring, so it is a good bet that many of these are Biology majors instead of BIMS majors. Botany (the first course for BS in Biology majors) has 24 enrolled, while the Human Anatomy & Physiology I course sits at 60 right now. This course is needed for Nursing, Exercise Science, and Life Sciences majors. These are exciting times for our BIMS/Biology faculty!
What does this tell us? At this point, it appears 1 in every 4-5 freshman students enrolling at McMurry this fall has an interest in a Biology Department program. With so many of the predicted “hot jobs” of the future centered in healthcare, biotech/forensics, the environment, and medical research, it is not surprising that so many of our students gravitate toward them. BIMS was a program whose time had come, and our offering this exciting program says we’re preparing students for prosperous and successful futures!